When you have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you have a right to seek compensation for any losses you’ve suffered. You may be unable to work because of your injury, so time can be of the essence. Unfortunately, if you can’t get the outcome you need from insurance providers or through a settlement, there’s a process you must go through before your case can go to trial.
Preparing and Filing a Complaint
To initiate a lawsuit to protect your rights, you must file a complaint in the appropriate court. Before you think of doing this, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney, someone who knows the law and the rules of procedure. Pursuant to what is known as the “statute of limitations,” you must file a lawsuit within a specific amount of time after your injury (or after you should reasonably have discovered your injury). If you fail to do so, your claim may be barred. Once you have filed your complaint and served a copy on any named defendants, they will have a specific period of time (usually 30 days) to respond to the complaint—to file an answer, in appropriate legal terminology. If the defendant does not file an answer in a timely manner, you can ask the court for a default judgment.
The Discovery Process
Once the complaint and answer have been filed, the court will establish a discovery schedule. “Discovery” is a legal term for the gathering of evidence. There are generally three ways that evidence is obtained:
- Through depositions—Oral testimony, given under oath, in response to questions from attorneys for all parties. Deposition testimony is typically transcribed by a court reporter, and may also be videotaped.
- Through interrogatories—These are written questions submitted by one party to another, and must be answered in writing within a specified period of time. The court will customarily set a limit on the number of interrogatories.
- Requests for production—The parties can request that other parties produce copies of any documents or other evidence relevant to the case.
It’s not unusual, prior to or at the meeting to establish the discovery ground rules, for the judge to encourage or even require the parties to engage in good faith efforts to settle, so the case does not have to go to trial.
Contact Our Office
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we offer experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment for a free initial consultation, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online .